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At 7PM on the 11th of January, 2016, Double Fine Studio’s Tim Schafer, currently working on a crowd-funded sequel to his cult classic title Psychonauts, started a thread for fans and critics to ask him questions on Reddit’s r/IAmA Sub-Board under his online handle ‘TimOfLegend.’
In 12 hours time, almost 3,000 comments and replies can be displayed in the thread. One user even commented, “This is the second biggest AmA I’ve ever seen.” However, anybody reading will not be able to read this comment in the main thread. Just like 600 others (some highlighted in red here) this comment has been reported to be deleted by this archive generated 8 hours after the thread’s creation.
Comments reported to be deleted range from random quips to entire rants. From gushing praise to scathing criticism. Below is a blind sample taken from the giant mass of red comments. It is worth noting that this is an actual screenshot of the archive and not a collage.
Among the eyebrow-raising details in this giant stack of disappearing comments is the fact that several replies by Schafer himself, along with those of a Fig affiliate known as Justin Bailey have been reported missing from the main thread.
Here is just a bit of inventory on posts reported missing by keyword:
-“Fig” (Referring to the platform used to crowdfund the game): 36 Highlighted and 4 edited (marked by blue highlighting) of 51 total posts
-”Brutal Legend”(The last release by Double Fine before turning to Crowdfunding): 38 Highlighted and 2 edited of 50 total posts
-”Broken Age” (The latest release by Schafer, infamous for its $3.3 Million initial budget and two Kickstarter Campaigns): 37 Highlighted and 1 edited out of over 50 total posts
-”Bobby Kotick” (CEO of Activision Blizzard, known for criticizing Schafer on his poor management on the titles they worked together on.): All 3 posts Highlighted
-”Gamergate” (Customer revolt whose participants include many critics of Schafer): All 10 Posts Highlighted
-”GG” (In reference to Gamergate): All 7 Posts Highlighted
Disclaimer: One post may contain 2 or more keywords, but no repeats of a keyword on the same post have been counted.
Users on Twitter have accused Tim Schafer himself of deleting these comments, leading Double Fine Productions to make this official statement regarding his authority over the thread:
@whenindoubtdo We have no ability to delete any comments, and we are happy to answer all questions you may have.
— Double Fine (@DoubleFine) January 11, 2016
The user Double Fine replied to also posted a link to the original thread along with the hashtags #Gamergate and #NotYourShield before making the accusatory post an hour later.
A mod on r/KotakuInAction/ has speculated “an issue with their automod and comments being approved manually” as the cause of the field of red in the archive, as some of the highlighted comments can in fact be found in the thread. However, some of the comments have in fact been deleted, including one that the mod has linked in his post, and concerns are still being raised about possible censorship. “It’s almost as if they are auto deleting just then reinstating inoffensive questions,” one user comments.
One thing is certain: This would not be the first time “The Front Page of the Internet” has been accused of censorship.